Make Your Tattoo Work Stand Out (even if you’re a rookie)

I know the feeling…
You finally get a client that wants something cool…
You spend hours on the drawing…
You’re super excited to get started…
This is surely going to be a portfolio piece…

Here we go! You start the tattoo. Let’s make sure these lines are perfect.

Is my color fill going all the way to the edge of the lines? Yep.

Is that blend nice and smooth? Yep…I’m good

Ok. Done! You wipe it down…the client loves it.

But something isn’t right…
Maybe it’s just because the skin is irritated…
Maybe you should have used a green background…
It just doesn’t Pop!

You aren’t sure exactly what it is but this tattoo just didn’t live up to your expectations.
You take a photo and post it to instagram…but it just looks crappy next to all of the other tattoos in your feed…so…you delete it.
Oh well…better luck next time

Sound Familiar?

Well, Today I’m Going To Help You Solve This Problem For Good (hint…it’s not your technique)

You have probably blamed it on your inks.

Maybe you’ve tried different types of needles

You probably are hoping the new $600 rotary machine is going to solve the problem.
(I’ll confess, switching to rotaries did solve a few of my headaches but, I promise, it is not the root of the issue.)

So what is the Problem? Why do your tattoos look flat and dull?

Let me answer that question with a short story.

For the first 15+ years of my career as a professional tattooer, the above scenario above was my reality. No matter how much I focused on improving my technique, my tattoos looked mediocre (at best).

It was even worse when I saw my work come back healed. Often, you could barely tell what the tattoo was supposed to be through the client’s body hair and farmer tan.

It was by chance that I signed up for a one week oil painting workshop in Atlanta in June of 2012. (I had considered myself a painter even though I had no real skill in the medium).
I quickly realized that many of the other artists in the room were much better painters than me.

At first this realization was scary but, as the workshop went on, my work began to improve. Everyone in the class could (and did) offer advice that made a positive impact on my painting. It turned out that being the worst artist in the room really had its advantages!

Then, on the 3rd day I had an epiphany that took all the weight off my shoulders.

I realized that there was no need to stress. It was pointless to make excuses or defend my work because (this is important, so read it twice) These people had solved problems that I didn’t even recognize as problems yet!

They could look at my work and know exactly where I needed improvement.
There was nothing I could say to defend it, so why bother trying?
They simply knew more than me!

This realization gave me a new level of confidence. I began to sign up for similar workshops and regularly surrounded myself with artists who were much better than me. I wasn’t afraid to ask questions or be critiqued. The pressure was gone and I began to understand the principles that make for great drawings. (Ill reveal the principles in a minute)

This made me rethink my entire approach to tattooing. I realized that I had been so focused on my technique, on my own methods, on the style that I was trying to work in, that I had neglected to learn the principles of dynamic tattoo design.

So what are the Principles and how do I use them?

Glad you asked. The principles are (In this exact order)

  1. Shape
  2. Value
  3. Edge
  4. Color

A little abstract. I know, but stick with me.
By constantly asking myself a series of questions related to each principle, I was able to quickly find my weaknesses and (even better), I learned exactly how to improve them.

Here are a few examples of the questions that I ask when designing any tattoo.

Can I easily identify the “star” of my composition (What shape do I want people to see first)?
Are my shapes too similar in size?

Is my light source consistent?
Am I using a full value range?

Am I using a variety of hard, soft and lost edges?
Am I getting variations in my line weight?

Am I using too many bright colors?
Are my colors too similar in value?

These are just a few of the questions that I ask myself during the design and tattoo process.

I’ll show you how you can learn to use these questions to improve your work so that you can start asking them to yourself when drawing your next design.

These questions help me to solve all of my big design problems very early on so that I don’t waste time on bad drawings. This approach takes all of the pressure off the process of tattooing and allows me to focus on the methods that make my work unique.

These Principles had an immediate impact on my life (and income)

As I began to understand and implement these Principles, a funny thing started to happen. My tattoos started to gain much more attention.

My clients became more open to my opinion which allowed me more creative control in my designs. As a result, my tattoos continued to improve and, in a short period of time, I was able to more than double my minimum charge.

Between 2013 and 2015, I was able to increase my minimum charge
from $125 to $500
(A 400% Increase!)

It sounds like a big jump, I know, but it happened seamlessly and with no additional marketing or work on my part. People just started to notice my work and began to seek me out.

Today I work in a private studio with no website, no front desk, no signage. In fact, Instagram is my only form of a portfolio and I am still booked for months on end. I am able to work exclusively on large scale projects and have now moved to a flat day rate.

This Experience is what led me and my team to create Fireside Foundations.

As the Founder of the Fireside Tattoo Network, I receive a steady stream of tattoo portfolios from artists asking for help and critique.When looking through their work, I began to noticed that I was making the same comments and recommendations to nearly every artist. And they were all related to the 4 Principles.

Finally, I sat down with my podcast team to find a way to create a program that explained these principles and how to use them to create dynamic tattoos that look great for years.

So What is Foundations?

Foundations it a Tattoo Specific Drawing Course that uses simple exercises to help you identify and correct your biggest drawing weaknesses (We all have them).

Using short video tutorials and assignments, we break down the principles of Shape, Value, Edge and Color into lessons that you can quickly apply to your own tattooing.

Here’s How it Works

Core Modules
Module 1 Videos introduce 3 basic shapes that we will use throughout the course
Using professional photo reference, we illustrate how these shapes respond to a single light source using the principles of value and edge.

Module 2 Videos begin to combine these shapes into recognizable tattoo related imagery while still keeping the basic shapes as the primary focus. These exercises help you to recognize and simplify complex objects to make for more accurate drawings

Module 3 Videos use more complex photo reference, challenging you to visually break the images down into simple shapes and reassemble them into fully rendered drawings

Module 4 takes the lessons from earlier modules and applies them directly to tattoo design. This module introduces the most important shape of all for tattooers…The human body

Bonus Modules
Practical Application Videos
As the course progresses, we reinforce these principles through entertaining “Practical Application” videos. These videos alone are worth the price of admission.

In our Practical Application Series, I digitally “rework” existing tattoos using the 4 Principles while you watch over my shoulder. This allows you to see my process and will help you learn how you can translate your newfound knowledge into much stronger drawing/tattooing.

When you subscribe, you will receive instant access to the first video and assignment in Module 1. A new module and assignment will be released every other day throughout the duration of the course. This “drip” release allows you time to digest each video and complete the assignment without feeling overwhelmed.

Don’t Take My Word for it. Check out what our customers have to say

I took the course because I always feel overwhelmed by big tattoo projects. Jake helped me to simplify my thought process and reduce the mind clutter. Foundations had a big impact on my tattooing and my drawings go so much faster!
Tom McCloud, TX

This course was amazing and worth every penny. Jake is so helpful. If you want to improve your artwork and create dynamic tattoos, this is the course for you
Crystal Beign, CA

As a professional artist I am always exploring resourses of information to continue educating myself.
I have found Fireside Foundations not only to be helpful in tattooing but, also in the world of art in general. I was challenged and inspired by the videos and assignments!

David, OR.

I decided to take the Inside Fireside online course due to the teachers being from a podcast I listened to regularly! The course was great and I would definitely recommend it to any tattoo artist looking to progress in the techniques of light, shadow and perspective. Each week I was given assignment and had the freedom to schedule my own time to finish them– a huge plus with a busy schedule. The course progressed naturally and I can definitely say my drawing technique improved. Not only that, but it pushed me to draw even more outside of the assignments on my own work. If you want to push yourself and challenge the drawing side of your craft, take this course !!!
Lauren O’Connor

This course has really changed me as a artist, it’s changed the way I look for references, it’s changed my approach to tattoos, it’s changed my mindset to tattooing. This was a really important course to me though I was going through a lot of personal stuff in my life at that time, this course was what kept pushing me forward because I knew at the end that I would be better.
My wife still brings up the course a lot, actually, every time I do a tattoo that’s she likes she praises this course.
I couldn’t thank you guys enough for allowing me a chance to take it.
I appreciate what y’all do for tattooing.

Alex Asad, TX

I took this course because I found myself stuck after 2 years of tattoo apprenticeship. I thought I could draw but I actually lacked a solid foundation and logical understanding about the way I drew.
Starting from basic concepts (shapes/values/edges) really helped me to rebuild the core structure of my drawing.
This course is very well planned, from a foundation concept to the creative thinking process and I appreciate that Jake is combining his knowledge from different fields and sharing it with new generation artists
Finally, I have learned not only these drawing skill but also a truly great attitude from the Fireside Team.
You guys rock! Respect!

Riz Yiu

Why You Should Join The Fireside Family Today

Foundations is an expanding course. We are regularly adding new content and, as new videos are added, the price will increase. By becoming part of the Fireside Family today, you will get the benefits of all future videos/tutorials at no additional charge.

In fact, I’ll sweeten the pot a little more

If you buy Foundations today, I will include access to our Inside Fireside Private Facebook group. Here, you can submit work, questions, revealing photos (not really), and get feedback from myself and our seasoned tattoo community. This is a small group and is invite only. It was originally set up for our private clients and is only now being offered to you.

Click Below to Start Module One Today

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly will I get?
You will get access to a new module every other day. This allows you time to watch each module and complete the attached assignment before the next video is introduced

How long will the course take to complete?
The 4 Core Modules can be completed in a couple of weeks. However, you will get access to 3 levels of photo reference (each increasing in complexity) which allows you to go through the modules repeatedly and challenge yourself as your skills improve. After the 4 core modules, you will receive access to all current practical applications modules and will be notified of new videos as they are released

Are there any hidden charges?

Any recurring monthly subscription?
Not at all. The price you see is what you pay.

Will I ever lose access to the members page?

What if I don’t like it?
If you don’t like Foundations for any reason, we will offer a refund within 24 hours of your request. You are not obligated to anything further.